R/V Sikuliaq: A Versatile, Ice-Capable Research Vessel

  • Client:
    University of Alaska, Fairbanks
  • Completion Date:
    June 2014
  • Collaborators:
    National Science Foundation
    Marinette Marine Corporation
  • Project Type:
    Vessel Design & Modification, Research Vessels
  • Service Categories:
    Naval Architecture
    Marine Engineering
    Acoustical Engineering
  • Vessel Overview:
    Ice-capable Arctic research vessel
  • Challenge:
    Design a research vessel for multi-disciplinary, year-round Artic missions.


The R/V Sikuliaq is the only ship owned by the National Science Foundation (NSF) rated for year-round operations in first-year ice, and the first vessel to be classed by ABS under the new polar vessel rules. A state-of-the-art, versatile science platform, the ship was built to support a myriad of cross-disciplinary studies in the Alaska region and can break through ice up to two and a half feet thick. It is operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), and was designed by Glosten to meet the complex requirements of atmospheric, ecosystem, fishery, and geologic research efforts. Sikuliaq is an Inupiaq word that means “young sea ice,” reflecting the vessel’s Alaskan heritage and the university’s commitment to arctic research.



The R/V Sikuliaq is set up for virtual and remote learning during its expeditions and can accommodate up to 26 scientists and students on board. Its diverse suite of winches allows scientists to collect seafloor sediment samples, conduct water column and sea floor surveys, and control remotely operated vehicles deployed to gather additional data, samples, and images for research.

The success of the Sikuliaq’s design is the result of a collaborative effort involving critical input from the scientific community. During our development of the initial design package, Glosten engineers worked closely with the steering committee and the NSF to resolve conflicting requirements and deliver a highly capable research vessel.

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